“Pay at the desk, please, sir,” said the waiter obsequiously.
He half followed them down the room. They had forgotten to tip him. It was quite obvious that they forgot. Yet his face was a study in the mingling of disappointment and contempt. He stood there looking after them; then he chucked up his head in disgust, and catching the eye of some distant waiter, he made a sign of a nought with his fingers, and looked up at the ceiling.
As they passed the woman’s table, she heard one of them say—
“There’s not a straight woman in the whole of that damned set—not one!” Then they passed out of hearing.
“I think it’s a marvellous thing,” said the woman when they had gone, “to think of the thousands of exciting tragedies, romances, crimes perhaps, that are being acted out to their ends all round one, and except for a stray little bit of conversation like that, one would never realize it. I remember hearing a woman in a crowd say something to a man in the most awful voice, full of horror, that I’ve ever heard. I just caught her saying, ’If he finds it out to-night, either I’ll kill myself or he’ll do it for me,’ and then they got out of the crowd, called a hansom and drove away. Positively, I didn’t sleep that night, wondering if he had found it out, wondering if he had killed her, wondering if hundreds of other people had found out hundreds of other horrible things. But it all went in the morning. Cissy had a terrible toothache, and I had to take her to the dentist’s.”
It was nine o’clock in the evening of the same day on which Traill had been to see Sally. The lights were burning in her room as Janet approached the street door. Opening it, she walked along the passage and began the ascent of stairs. Halfway up the first flight she stopped. The voices of two men, talking rather excitedly, came up to her from the street as if they were nearing the house. Another moment and she heard one bidding the other good night in the passage. Evidently he was coming in. She walked on up the flight of stairs. His footsteps sounded behind her. She took but little more notice of the fact until, when she stopped before Sally’s door, he stopped behind her. Then she turned round. Her eyes opened a little wider. She began to say one thing; then she changed her mind and said another.
“Aren’t you Mr. Traill?” she asked.
He looked at her more closely in the dim light from the landing window.
“Yes; how did you know?”
“I’m Miss Hallard.”
“Oh, oh yes! You’re Sally’s friend.”
“’Bout the only one she has.” said Janet. There was no flinching in her eyes from his.
“You mean that for me?”
“Would it surprise you to hear me say I deserve it?”
“Yes, considerably. Isn’t it a pity you didn’t realize that a bit sooner?”